Complete Second Season
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All photos © ABC
Reviewed by Will Harris
few years ago, it would’ve been hard to imagine that intelligent family comedy could’ve made a comeback on broadcast television, but damned if ABC hasn’t manage to pull it off on Wednesday evenings. You’ve got “The Middle” at 8 PM, and now “Suburgatory” is being added to the mix at 8:30, but none of it would’ve happened without the show that sits in the 9 PM timeslot. Please stand up and take a bow, “Modern Family,” because if you hadn’t emerged fully formed and inspired gales of laughter from the get-go, none of it would’ve happened.
The second season of “Modern Family” is easily as funny as the first, possibly even more so because of the existing familiarity with the trio of family units: Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell), and Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria Pritchett (Sofia Vergara). One would be hard pressed to suggest that there’s really been any growth in the series – it’s unlikely that the average viewer would be able to spot a difference between a Season One and a Season Two episode – but, as noted, the show came out of the gate knowing exactly what it wanted to be, so there’s not really anywhere it needed to go in order to be any better, and it hasn’t been around long enough yet for it to feel stale from having not changed up the formula.
It’s well documented that “Modern Family” was directly inspired by the lives of its creators, Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, so, much like last season, it’s fun to wonder which bits came from which producer’s life – although thanks to the 2011 Emmy Awards, we now know that the scene with Claire and Phil being caught in flagrante by the kids was all Levitan. No matter who inspired what, however, the show rarely feels anything less than completely real. Everyone knows a dad like Phil, who’s not nearly as cool as he wants to believe he is, but sometimes even cool parents reach their breaking point, and “Good Cop Bad Dog” delivers that clarification perfectly. Specifically, the sight of Phil leaping atop his daughter’s car in order to keep her from driving off is something every angry parent has wanted to do, so it’s easy to imagine dads across American leaping to their feet and applauding at that moment.
“Modern Family” also continues to remind viewers that a couple of gay men can be just as neurotic in their relationship as a man and a woman – thank you, Cameron and Mitchell – while doing so in a manner that either avoids clichés or acknowledges them head-on. It’s also impressive that the older man / younger woman relationship of Jay and Gloria has reached a point where their age difference isn’t nearly as important to the average storyline as just their general differences in personality. As for the various kids on the show, Rico Rodriguez, a.k.a. Manny, continues to be a major comedic player, but Ariel Winter’s Alex is slowly but surely becoming more fleshed out as a character, arguably more than any of her youthful peers, as we’re watching her deal with attempts to be more popular and – gasp! – flirting with boys.
Yes, there are occasional storylines that fall a little flat or come off as a bit too slapsticky, but far more often than not, “Modern Family” continues to hit it out of the park with its realistic portrayal of family life and all the humor and emotion that comes along with it.
Special Features: It’s a shame they couldn’t offer any audio commentaries for this set, given the size of the cast, but it’s not like the producers of “Modern Family” skimped on the rest of the bonus material. The most enjoyable inclusion by far is the table read for the episode “Strangers on a Treadmill,” which gives viewers the opportunity to see the cast being as amused by the scripts for their show as everyone else is. In addition, there are several behind-the-scenes featurettes, including a semi-lengthy one entitled “‘Modern Family’ Holidays,” which explores the season’s holiday-themed episodes, as well as “Mitch’s Flash Mob,” which offers a look at Jesse Tyler Ferguson getting his groove on. Other special features include the music video for “Imagine Me Naked” (you’ll remember the song when you hear it), deleted scenes, alternate versions of interview segments, and an interview with co-creator Steve Levitan. Yes, indeed, it’s loads of fun for the family…